The village of Jim Corbett, the hunter turned conservationist, celebrated its 101styear festival after the grand celebrations on turning 100 last year. It is a novel example in bringing together communities including women and children and spreading the message of conservation. This year too a host of activities were lined up starting on Christmas day. These included cycling, trekking, nature walks, bird watching, talks and workshop on aipan craft. The celebrations began with the ceremonial garlanding of Corbett’s bust at his house which has been turned into a museum was done by the Mr. Pushkar Kathura, Nagar Panchayat President. The 100+ festival as it was called was formally inaugurated by Mr. Kapil Joshi, Director, Forest Training Academy, Haldwani. The trainees of the FTI who were present at the inauguration walked the Jim Corbett heritage trail and saw the exhibition of local products. The next day was also activity packed. Trainees of the State Forest Service College were also present in the festival. The visitors identified 50 species of birds on a single bird trail. Trained bird guides Mr. Rajesh Bhatt and Mr. Mohan Panday accompanied the visitors and assisted them in identifying birds. The Baur canal trail and the trek to the Chuna Khan waterfall mesmerized everyone.
Evenings were occupied with screening of a film on Jim Corbett’s legacy, folk dance performances “Jhora” by the community, folk songs on nature, shadow puppet shows by the village children, stalls of traditional food and local handicrafts. The workshop on traditional art of Kumaoni rangoli called ‘aipan’ was a great draw for the visitors. The visitors were hosted in 10 homestays run by locals in Chhoti Haldwani village. Dr. Ajay Rawat of Kumaon University also interacted with the visitors and briefed them about the forest heritage of Uttarakhand the various forest movements in the state. Ms. Kehakasha Naseem, DFO Terai East also interacted with the visitors on her experiences with community based tourism.
Thus ended the 2 day festival hosted by the Corbett Gram Vikas Samiti of Chhoti Haldwani which is a collective of fans of Jim Corbett from his very own village. This festival at Chhoti Haldwani is one of its’ kind in the state of Uttarakhand. This unique festival is an effort where the works and profits are equally shared by the community. The festival generates no waste using no bottled water or plastic. It was celebrated with great gusto and organized with each other’s cooperation and witnessed by over 1000 villagers. It was supported by Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation and Uttarakhand Forest Department including the Eco tourism wing. The communities of Chhoti Haldwani reiterated their faith in realizing Jim Corbett’s dream in making their village into a model self-sustainable village with a mandate of conservation.